When you hit the backcountry (or sidecountry), you need a place to keep all your gear—the everyday necessities like food, water and extra layers and the stuff you never want to use, like avalanche beacon, probe and shovel. Moreoever, you want it easily accessible. The 27-liter, top-loading Squall, while overly simple for some, hits all of those points. A single zip down the middle of the backside gets you access to the spacious main compartment—even with skis attached—where avy gear-specific sleeves keep everything in place. Instead of a topside zipper pocket, though, there's an unusual drawstring/roll-top closure that includes a small odds-and-ends pocket. If you can get past that (some reviewers hate it, but it does allow for top expansion) and the unpadded hipbelt this may be the pack for you. There's an included 70-ounce hydration bladder that stores in a removable insulated sleeve, and the ski straps are strong, yet easy to work. It was such a value when it was released in 2011—and at full price, to boot—that Outside gave it a Gear of the Year award. Now it's yours for half that. Get it, then get out there.
Sale Price: $50 (50% off)